Free school meals

A free school meal is a school lunch we provide free of charge to children from families on a low income:

Who can get free school meal

If your child attends primary school and qualifies for this entitlement, we will provide them with a free school meal. An online school payment system is in operation and will recognise when a child is entitled. Though payments are not required we advise parents and carers to register for the system to allow them to view the daily meal choices their child makes.

If a child attends a secondary school, they will be given a daily credit allowance to be used in the school dining hall at lunchtime. The credit allowance is the equivalent value of a two course meal. This automatically goes onto a pupil’s account at the start of each day. Any sum remaining after the lunch period is removed.

View our guide on how to obtain free school meals (172KB).

Children are eligible for free school meals if their parents (or carers) are in receipt of a qualifying benefit.

The qualifying benefits and allowances are:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit)
  • Any income related element of Employment Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC), but not Working Tax Credit (WTC), and have an income of less than £16,105
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Working Tax Credit (WTC) and have an income of less than £6420
  • Universal Credit
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

If you are between 16 and 18 years old and receive a qualifying benefit, you can claim free school meals for yourself. 

The qualifying benefits and allowances are:

  • Income Support
  • Income Based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA)
  • Any income related element of Employment Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC), but not Working Tax Credit (WTC), and have an income of less than £16,105
  • Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Working Tax Credit (WTC) and have an income of less than £6420

How to apply

If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction you will not need to submit a separate application form for free school meals. If you qualify for free school meals we will write to you and confirm your entitlement.

There is some supporting documentation you need to provide when you apply.

You can apply for free school meals online. Alternatively you can contact us for an application.

Apply for free school meals

Supporting documentation

When you complete and return your application form you will have to provide some documentary evidence. This could be:

  • A letter from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) less than three months old confirming the type of benefit and current eligibility
  • If you receive Income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, your letter must state the words Income-based
  • Your Tax Credit Award Notice TC602 for 2015/2016 from HM Revenue and Customs showing entitlement to Child Tax Credit only
    (with no Working Tax Credit payment) with a gross income assessed by HM Revenue and Customs of £16,105 or less
  • Pension Credit Award Notice for 2015/2016 including assessment pages
  • Confirmation of current support from the National Asylum Support Service (NASS) or a Social Services Asylum Team

You can send the documentary evidence with your claim form, however we do not advise that you send any valuable documents by post. You may wish to bring your documents to your nearest local Benefits Office where the documents will be verified and returned to you immediately.

If you are experiencing any difficulties in providing the documentary evidence in support of your claim please contact us for advice and assistance.

Change in circumstances

If your circumstances change for any reason you must contact our Support and Advice team.

If you receive a free school meal to which you are not entitled you will be asked to pay that money back.

Contact

If you have a query about entitlement to free school meals you can contact our Support and Advice team:

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